by James Whitely -
SGN Staff Writer
The Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA) and the Pride Foundation both presented their annual scholarship awards last weekend. Both organizations have been dedicated to empowering and financially backing the next generation of LGBTQ and allied leaders for two decades.
'With 500 guests in the room on Friday night, you could hear a pin drop as our students stood up to share their stories of hopes, dreams, challenges, and accomplishments. If you meet the GSBA scholars, you will have no doubt that this is a group of students capable and ready to take on the complex issues of their time,' Louise Chernin, president and CEO of the GSBA, told SGN. 'For us in the GSBA, we are so proud to be able to play a small part in making sure LGBTQA students have the support of their community, both financially and emotionally. It is an investment that will benefit us all.'
'Pride Foundation's Scholarship Program represents what is best about our LGBTQ community. Hundreds of generous donors and volunteers have contributed to the program to ensure LGBTQ and straight ally students have the opportunity to achieve their dreams,' Kris Hermanns, executive director of the Pride Foundation, told SGN.
This year, the GSBA awarded $182,000 to 43 students. The Pride Foundation, which covers four other Northwestern states in addition to Washington, awarded a record $400,000 to their 94 scholars.
The GSBA held its annual awards banquet May 18 at Seattle's Waterfront Marriott Hotel. Keynote speaker Gautam Raghavan spoke at the event. Raghavan is an associate director in the White House Office of Public Engagement and serves as the Obama administration's liaison to the LGBT community.
'Gautam was charming, warm, delightful, and inspiring,' Chernin told SGN. 'Speaking of charming, our witty MC, JJ McKay, kept up just the right amount of delightful banter and used great skill in hosting this complicated event.'
The Pride Foundation and its scholars from Washington, Alaska, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana met at the Red Lion Hotel in downtown Seattle for a scholarship breakfast on the morning of May 19.
'These scholars - nearly 100 of them, ranging from ages 16 to 60 - are our community's future leaders, and in many cases are already doing extraordinary things for their local communities throughout the Northwest,' Hermanns told SGN.
'We are supporting students at a critical moment in their lives, at a time when traditional family support networks aren't always available and higher education is becoming more inaccessible,' said Hermanns.
'In addition to addressing current LGBTQ needs, the Pride Foundation's role is to also build a lasting philanthropic legacy to ensure that we achieve and maintain LGBTQ equality. Our scholars are entrusted to continue this legacy for generations to come.'
'GSBA's Scholarship Fund allows us to connect with and encourage the future leaders of our community,' said Chernin. 'Scholarship recipients have proven leadership skills and strong academic achievement, and have demonstrated a commitment to making a positive difference in the world and their community.'
The GSBA Scholarship Fund started in 1990. To date, the fund has awarded more than 389 scholarships totaling over $1.4 million to Washington state undergraduate students. Its awards range from $3,000 to $10,000.
The Pride Foundation awarded its first scholarship in 1993. To date, the foundation has awarded $2.7 million to more than 1,100 scholars. It is one of the largest LGBTQ scholarship programs in North America.
For more information on these scholarships, visit the GSBA at www.thegsba.org and the Pride Foundation at www.pridefoundation.org.
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